Auburn-Alabama, Green Bay-Chicago, Coke-Pepsi, Hatfields-McCoys. These are some history's greatest rivalries, and in the automotive world nothing surpasses F-150 versus Silverado. It's actually been a one-sided fight as the Ford F-150 has been America's best-selling pickup truck for 39 consecutive years, and it's our pick as well. But that doesn't mean the Chevrolet Silverado isn't competitive.
Each takes a different approach to the modern light-duty pickup formula. Both offer three cab body styles, three bed lengths, rear- or four-wheel drive, and available V-6 or V-8 power. The Chevy is more traditional, with the usual steel body construction and a pair of big displacement V-8s. Ford, however, goes for an all-aluminum body and a twin-turbocharged V-6 as the line-topper.
Both approaches are viable, but the Ford has more to offer, and it scores higher in our ratings.
Styling is similar though we give the nod to the Ford. The F-150 goes out of its way to play down its aluminum body structure, wearing every possible right angle and a bold, blocky shape to seemingly compensate for the light structure. Every square inch is detailed to cheat the wind. The cabin balances an industrial look with modern comfort, and a low beltline creates excellent outward visibility.
The Silverado's design falls in step with Chevy's heavy duty pickups, with an upright, chiseled, and somewhat boxy shape. An upright and well-trimmed interior matches the exterior.
On the road, both drive better than their body-on-frame underpinnings would suggest. The Ford's electric power steering is light and quick. Ride isolation is exceptional, and so are quietness and composure. With its well-tuned ride and responsive handling, the Silverado is just as pleasant.
Engine performance, however, is in Ford's favor, both in terms of power and fuel economy. The heart of the lineup is the pair of twin-turbocharged V-6 engines. The torquey 325-horsepower 2.7-liter turbo V-6 is as good as the base V-8s in most pickups, and it can tow 8,500 pounds. The twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6, at 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, is the strongest light-duty pickup engine on the market, and it can tow up to 12,200 pounds, which is best in the class.
Chevy's popular 5.3-liter V-8 delivers 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, and it can tow up to 11,500 pounds. The top 6.2-liter V-8, at 420 hp and 460 lb-ft, provides the most capability; it can tow up to 12,000 pounds.
We rate the F-150 slightly higher than the Silverado for Comfort and Quality, but much of the reason is Ford's list of innovative bed features. The F-150 has loading ramps that lock into the bedsides, a BoxLink system with cleats and brackets to anchor cargo, LED lighting, and a deployable bed step. Our favorite is the tailgate step that slides out, along with a picket-style handrail. The Silverado has steps in each side of the rear bumper, a damped tailgate, and LED lamps.
Both trucks offer spacious, quiet cabins with thoughtful storage solutions and large controls that are glove-friendly. Real wood trim and lovely leather make their way into the Ford's King Ranch and Platinum models. A top-of-the-line High Country model for the Silverado has serious top-lux cabin appointments as well.
Prices rise quickly for both trucks as higher line models and options are chosen. The F-150 has some pretty cool features, highlighted by the new Sync 3 infotainment system, which is easier to use than the unloved MyFord Touch. Ford also offers a Pro Trailer Backup Assist option that will do the steering when backing up into a tight spot, as well as an off-road-oriented FX4 package.
The Chevy gets an upgraded version of the MyLink infotainment system, and it is quite easy to use. The available OnStar 4G LTE hotspot capability is a plus.
If safety is a priority, it's all here in the 2016 F-150. It gets a five-star crash test rating from the government and a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It is also available with second-row inflatable seat belts, additional braking help via Curve Control, blind-spot monitors, and lane keep assist.
The Silverado also gets a five-star government crash test rating, but it doesn't have complete ratings from the IIHS and therefore we rate it one point lower. Chevrolet also offers intelligent high-beam headlights, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.
In the final analysis, the Ford edges out the Chevy in four of our six categories and offers a more advanced overall package. However, we find the Silverado to be a very pleasant truck and if you can find it for a better price than the Ford, we understand why you would buy it.